Elizabeth Sage Set to Rock the Stage at the Summer Breakout Event in Williamsburg

By Jerry Del Priore

Summer BOUp-and-coming indie pop singer/song writer Elizabeth Sage, a Brooklyn native, will be performing at the Summer Breakout at the Hall at MP (400 Driggs Avenue) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sunday, July 30th.

The show starts at 5:00 p.m. and runs until 11:00 p.m. or so. Tickets for the performance are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

Sage, accompanied by various bandmates, will be playing her own music, mixed in with a few surefire, classic covers.

Other acts include Wooden Ships, Black Bishop, Typhon Rising, Point/Forty Five and Rico and the Rebels.

To purchase tickets, log onto https://www.eventbee.com/v/growthescene/event?eid=156157523#/tickets or contact Sage on Facebook @https://www.facebook.com/shlomit.friedman.1.

E. Sage

Elizabeth Sage, standing right with guitar.


The Stretch Joint Provides Flexibility, Relief in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

By Jerry Del Priore

The Stretch Joint

The Stretch Joint.

One of the most ignored segments of a fitness routine is flexibility. Even when incorporated into an exercise program, there’s a limit to how far someone can stretch themselves, noted James Leonard, a longtime fitness professional and manager and stretch practitioner at The Stretch Joint in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

That’s where Leonard’s flexibility facility and staff come into play, providing pain relief and increasing range of motion for Brooklynites and countless others for the past 11 months.

The flexibility method employed at the Stretch Joint is called Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)—a type of athletic stretching technique, developed by Aaron Mattes (M.S.), that provides effective, dynamic, assisted stretching of major muscle groups. More importantly, it delivers functional and physiological restoration of superficial and deep fascial planes, according to StretchJoint.com.

The key to AIS is that stretches are held no longer than four-five seconds at a time, with each repetition moving a little further, Leonard pointed out. This prevents localized muscle fatigue and lactic acid buildup, plus decreases potential injury.

AIS is better suited for pre-workout or competition performance, Leonard said.

“Whenever somebody comes in, the first thing we do is to find out what’s going on with them,” Leonard, 52, explained. “Then, we teach people the proper way to stretch.”

The Stretch Joint treats clients from all walks of life, including athletes and people with various physical conditions and maladies.

“What we get in here are athletes trying to increase range of motion, and people with injuries and diseases, Leonard said.”

Among some of the injuries and diseases he mentioned were piriformis syndrome (a neuromuscular disorder related to the sciatic nerve), bulging and herniated disks, frozen shoulder syndrome, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and muscular dystrophy (MD).

“We relieve the symptoms thereof. It doesn’t cure it. It relieves symptoms that they’re suffering from, because those are autonomic nervous system diseases, which attack the nervous system,” he said of Parkinson’s, MS and MD. “The muscles are controlled by nervous system, so they get some relief.”

In addition, several clients are benefiting from The Stretch Joint’s flexibility therapy.

“A friend of mine, who knows my chronic neck pain issues, referred me to see James (or Magic Jim as he is often called) at the Stretch Joint,” said Jeanmarie Tari-Blake, a highly skilled Nurse Practitioner from Staten Island. “I have had neck pain for over 20 years and recently developed numbness and tingling down my arm. I have had multiple epidural steroid injections in my neck as well as facet joint injections and radiofrequency ablations (a pain management procedure) over the years, which were ineffective. I have also done physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture, with limited relief of my symptoms.


The Stretch Joint’s James Leonard works on a client.

“I went for a free session in April 2017,” she continued. “I then met with James, who is a true professional. I have now been going twice per week. He was very honest with me and made me aware from the first visit that, given the chronicity of my symptoms, this will be a long process. But he would get me better. I’m happy to say that I get improvement with each session. I’m very optimistic about the future now.”

Plus, Leonard said that increased flexibly also improves blood circulation, as taught and tight muscles limit blood flow. He said proper stretching over time leads to muscular healing and improved sleep patterns because of better overall body relaxation.

“When we stretch you, you release endorphins within your body, so it relaxes you,” Leonard expounded. “So, later on that night, you sleep better. I’ve had people I’ve stretched, come back and say, ‘That’s the best night’s sleep I had in years.”’

To book a free half-hour appointment at The Stretch Joint, call 347-578-7108 and/or visit www.TheStretchJoint.com.







Brooklyn Baker’s Twinkie Recipe Included in Hostess’ 85th Anniversary Cookbook

By Jerry Del Priore


One of Larraine’s delicious creations. Photos courtesy of Lorraine Caton

When baker Lorraine Caton heard that Hostess was sponsoring a contest for Twinkie recipes for its official 85th Anniversary Cookbook, she decided to throw her hat into the proverbial mix.

Caton never thought she had a chance. Two months ago, however, the Mill Basin resident learned Hostess had chosen her Apple Brie Cheddar Minis dish for the cookbook.

After being selected as a finalist, among countless participants, for one of the 25 new entries in the book, Caton didn’t hear back from Hostess for a few months, leaving her twisting in the wind. But the end result thrilled her beyond belief.

“After I heard about being one of the finalists, for a while I didn’t really hear anything,” said Caton, a graduate of Kingsborough Community College’s culinary program and certificate holder in cake technique and design from the International Culinary Center.

I was kind of just wondering that maybe I didn’t get picked. So, when I found out, I said, ‘Oh, this is great for me.’ I was definitely excited and kind of shocked. I didn’t know what to say in that moment.”

Creating Caton’s Apple Brie Cheddar Minis, featured in the Twinkies and fruit section of the book, involves scooping out the golden sponge cake’s creamy filling and combining it with Sriracha, rosemary, thyme and salt. The mixture is set aside and put back in the end. She also uses Granny Smith apples, slightly cooked in butter and rum, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced Brie and crushed walnuts. Caton said the final product is a sweet, tart, spicy, savory delight, comparable to a grilled cheese sandwich, but it also tastes like a funnel cake.


Lorraine Caton’s Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Caton, a baker’s assistant and cake decorator for a popular, small chain bake shop in Prospect Heights, said the exposure from the book has led to an increase in her own baking business—the Cookie Pusher.

Caton’s ultimate plan is to open her own brick-and-mortar bake shop. In the meantime, she’s happy working on perfecting her baking skills and relishing in the attention her appearance in the Hostess cookbook has garnered her.

For more information on the Twinkies Cookbook and the Cookie Pusher, visit http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com, and follow Caton on Instagram @thecookiepusher.

This article first appeared in the August 20, 2104 edition of the Canarsie Courier.

The Phil Taitt Show to Hold Second Annual Dream, Reach, Inspire 2017 Event at St. Francis College

By Jerry Del Priore

Phil Taitt

The Phil Taitt Show’s Dream, Reach, Inspire 2nd annual Event will be held on Saturday, April 29th at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights.

On Saturday April 29th, The Phil Taitt Show, in conjunction with Unity In The Community, and produced by ForSmiles Inc., will present the second annual Dream, Reach, Inspire event at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights.

The show will feature a star-studded lineup of honorees, including founding member of pop group Destiny’s Child, Latavia Roberson, Beauty Icon Miko Branch, Entertainer and Model Demetria McKinney and New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

“These are great people,” said Taitt, the host of the show. “I chose people who have stories to tell. I wanted to honor them.”

Taitt, a Brooklynite, said proceeds from the show will go to Unity in the Community’s Do Right, Do Good Scholarship Foundation, which provides students with financial funds to attend college.

Seeing how last year’s show was such a resounding success, Taitt felt compelled to hold a second one.

“Being able to do the event last year, and it was so well-received, was so great,” Taitt, 23, said. “I not only wanted to do it, I felt I had to do it. I want to help inspire people.”

In addition to the honor recipients , special presenters scheduled to appear are Beauty Influencer Avielle Amore and Bre Scullark, who placed third on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 5 season.

To purchase tickets, log onto https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dream-reach-inspire-2017-tickets-32427358101?aff=eac2 (jeans and sneakers aren’t permitted).

To view the Phil Taitt Show, go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe1TXFAymuD-b91jSWT9bqg.

You can also connect with The Phil Taitt Show on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thephiltaittshow.



Brooklyn Dance Team, Strut N Strive Kingdom Dance, Swags Its Way to Success

By Jerry Del Priore


Strut N Strive Dance Team Divisions.

A few years ago, sisters Sadia and Cienna Cambridge dreamed of what seemed like the impossible to most people in their Glenwood housing complex community located in Canarsie, Brooklyn: Start a dance program for New York City children.

Strut N Strive Kingdom Dance team (formerly known as Couture Girls), an all-volunteer run co-ed dance program, started out with a modest four dancers and a vision that has grown to over 50 strong to date.

Groups of dancers ages seven to 19 compete all over New York City and nationwide in hip-hop and majorette (basically choreographed dance or movement, primarily associated with marching bands), with a handful of first-, second-, and third-place finishes under the team’s belt.

But the pinnacle of success for SSKD came when it appeared on the hit Lifetime reality dance TV show Bring It!, which features the dance team, The Dancing Dolls, from Mississippi, in February 2017.

The Dancing Dolls are a top competition dance team that competes in hip-hop majorette style, a routine that combines hip-hop, cheerleading and majorette moves, among other forms. So, when it came to the call-out battle round on the show to decide the winner, it marked a highpoint for the SSKD program, which is relatively new to majorette competition, Sadia, 25, noted.

“That was a great experience, and a lot exposure for our team, being the only New York team to actually go against the Dancing Dolls,” said Sadia, a former South Shore High School Vikings booster. “So, we actually put New York on the map for that.”

While the national TV experience propelled SSKD into the limelight (even though it came up short), the whole competition aspect is still costly, especially when it needs to travel to remote locations to thrust and thrive. Add on the expense of costumes, hair and makeup, which the program helps with, and Sadia said it makes operating the program extremely difficult at times.

In addition to the $50 a month fee families pay per child, plus the aforementioned miscellaneous expenses, SSKD performs fundraising concerts and partakes in bake sales to offset the costs. But there is still the financial strain on the program, which practices in less-than-perfect conditions, as it lacks a studio space at the moment.

However, SSKD makes do with the resources at its disposal, and always put the safety of the children first.


“I have been in this (Glenwood) community center since I was eight years old. This is still home to me,” Sadia explained. “But when I feel someone is just not pleased about where the area is, I’m going make sure, even if I got to walk them to the bus, they’re fine and safe, and they get on the bus.”

With the steadfast commitment the coaches put forth, SSKD requires the children to make an absolute dedication to the program, practicing the art of dance six days a week as well as performing up to par in the classroom. Otherwise, Sadia, said, they don’t get to attend the program if they don’t follow the rules.


Strut N Strive Kingdom Dance Team is all smiles!

But dancing is filling a void when going out in the community isn’t a viable option.

“It’s mainly just to keep them off the streets,” Sadia said. “That’s our main focus, because our neighborhood, growing up around here, is not a fun place to be. So why not just try to do something in this community center where these kids can dance?”

Plus, “I want them to do something positive and just see more than just these buildings (in the complex) because, when they travel, it’s so exciting for them,” she added. “I just want them to see more than this neighborhood.”

Patrice Mckoy—whose 10-year-old daughter, Sahara Lancaster, is part of SSKD—sang the praises of the program, and what it has done for her once-shy offspring.

“She’s coming out of her shell,” Mckoy said. “This team is allowing her to blossom in a way where she can be free, and express herself. She loves dancing. It gave her life, and health-wise, she’s getting in shape.”

SSKD is schedule to perform an approximately three and half minute routine at the Brooklyn Nets/Boston Celtics game at halftime at the Barclays Center on Friday, March 17, to increase its exposer and showcase its energetic shake-and-groove talent.

To see SSKD in action and to donate to the program, look them up on YouTube.com at Strut N Strive dance team and log onto https://www.gofundme.com/help-raise-sskd-raise-for-a-studio.

Sunset Park, Brooklyn Boxer Julian Sosa Continues Torrid Fighting Pace With Win On Coney Island


Julian Sosa after his victory on Sunday on Coney Island.

Professional boxer Julian Sosa is busier than your average 20-year-old.

Sosa, a welterweight from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, has fought seven times since turning professional approximately a year and a half ago, including his impressive, unanimous six-round decision over Rene Marquez (5-2, KOs) Sunday at the Ford Amphitheater on Coney Island.

Though training and fighting don’t leave much time for the typical youthful shenanigans, Sosa (6-0-1, 2 KOs) doesn’t mind putting in the necessary long hours to reach his championship aspiration—something, he said, that’s gradually taking shape.

“It is a lot of work, a lot of sacrifices,” Sosa said. “But I’m willing to make those sacrifices because I have a vision. I have a dream, and nothing comes easy in life. So, I know I have to work for what I want. I’m glad everything is slowly starting to become a reality.”

The Sosa camp, comprised of his father/trainer Aureliano, his uncle Eusebio, and his strength and conditioning coach Hugh, set fourth a strategy in which the young pugilist would strike from the outside, as to avoid Marquez’s interior fighting style. Sosa said it worked like a charm.


Julian Sosa gets ready to go in for more action Sunday on Coney Island.

While Sosa is usually ready to jump right back into the mix and start preparing for his next bout almost immediately, he said he’ll savor the sweet victory for the time being.

“As of right know, I just want to embrace this moment,” he said. “This (upcoming break) is only temporary. I want to celebrate with my family, and once the next week hits, I’ll be back in the gym, back to the drawing board. Whenever the next fight presents itself, I’ll be ready.”

Sosa and Marquez’s fight was part of the undercard to the Errol Spence Jr.—Lenard Bundu 12-round IBF Welterweight World Title Eliminator — won by Spence — as well as the Heather Hardy-Shelly Vincent 10-round WBC International Women’s Featherweight Championship, claimed by Hardy, on NBCSN.

By Jerry Del Priore

Undersized Ex-Football Chief Shawn Cabbell Ready To Prove Doubters Wrong At College

By Jerry Del Priore


Former Chiefs running back/defensive back Shawn Cabbell warms up versus Brooklyn Tech in last season’s opener, a 24-6 road victory.

At a modest five-foot-seven and 167 pounds, many people had their doubts if Shawn Cabbell could make a college gridiron squad due to his lack of size. But they failed to measure the one intangible that mattered most: Cabbell’s intense desire to play the game he loves at the next height.

After three years as a member of Canarsie Education Campus’ football program, Cabbell defied the odds and signed with Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC)—a two-year school affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region III as an independent conference football team, according to its website—in late June.

Cabbell, 19, has already exceeded the naysayers’ lack of faith, which only provided fuel for his college football aspiration.

“A lot of people did,” Cabbell said of the pessimists who told him he was too small to suit up at a higher football level, “but I kept that in my head,” which, he said, helped motivate him to work even harder to accomplish.


Shawn Cabbell is far wide right against the Engineers last year.


Cabbell played four years of youth football with the Brooklyn Chiefs, and starred on Canarsie’s junior varsity squad as a running back, leading the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) in rushing with 1231 yards on 78 carries during the 2013 season.

The East New York native, who also participated on the track and rugby teams at CEC, spent two solid seasons on varsity, scoring five touchdowns—four on offense and one on an 82-yard kickoff return—in his senior year.

Now, Cabbell is taking his speed and overall gridiron skills to Troy N.Y., where he’s more than ready to prove himself while soaking up the positive college football vibes, as well as the overall student-athlete experience.

“I am going to keep working hard and keep pushing my stuff to high potential and prove everyone that they’re wrong,” he said. “Practice is going great. I like it here and it’s better competition out there, and I’m doing my thing. Coach (Michael Muehling) likes me already, and I’m happy I’m playing on a different level.”

A level that several nonbelievers thought he never reach.

Ex-Canarsie Football Player Darius Lancaster Eyes College Success On And Off The Field

By Jerry Del Priore


Darius Lancaster lines up on defense against Brooklyn Tech last year in the Chiefs’ season opener, a 24-6 win on the road..

Darius Lancaster started playing organized football with the Mill Basin Mariners at the age of 13. It’s late for anyone who realistically aspires to put the pads on at the collegiate level. He chose other sports, such as basketball and baseball, over the gridiron.

Though Lancaster was behind football-wise to other children, it didn’t stop him from achieving his ultimate goal. The former Canarsie Chiefs wide receiver committed to college in February, selecting Morrisville State College—a Division III school in the Empire 8 Conference—in Upstate New York.

It was Lancaster’s top choice, and he knew right away after his first and only campus visit that he wanted to go to Morrisville State.

“The coaches showed me a lot of attention, a lot of love and stuff like that,” Lancaster explained. “I felt comfortable. Two days later, they wanted me to commit, and I wanted to commit because it felt like home already.”

But playing football wasn’t the only reason the Far Rockaway, Queens resident wanted to attend Morrisville State College.

“I feel like it’s a place I could grow academically as well as athletically,” said Lancaster, who earned the Scholar Athlete Award for achieving academic excellence while a Public School Athletic League (PSAL) participant during his time at the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media (IAM) at Canarsie Educational Campus (CEC).


Darius Lancaster all smiles earlier this month before training camp.

Nevertheless, the 17-year-old’s high school grades were never an issue for him, according to his mother, Patrice Mckoy.

“His grades were awesome. He stayed on the honor roll,” Mckoy said. “He’s not that much on bragging; that’s my job. He was a true student-athlete.”

Lancaster plans on studying human performance and health promotion, a natural fit for a fine student and promising, young athlete.

Moreover, going into training camp, Lancaster is gleefully optimistic regarding his school choice.

“I am happy with my decision,” he said. “I feel like I am going to take my game to the next level, and better myself (as a person).”

A true mark of venerable character for anyone looking to achieve excellence on the next level, football or otherwise.


Brooklynite Highlighted In Army Reserve Ad Campaign

By Jerry Del Priore


Frantz Souffrant in his Army fatigues.

The United States Army Reserve began its new advertising campaign, “All Solider,” last month with a new television ad, digital landing page and social media content. It features a Brooklynite, Frantz Souffrant, a Chief Warrant Officer 2 in the Army Reserve and New York City Police Lieutenant.

Souffrant, a Canarsie resident and I.S. 68 Isaac Bildersee alumnus, is one of four soldiers to have an in-depth profile of his military and civilian careers in the campaign.

“I am extremely honored. It’s a humbling experience,” Souffrant said of being selected for the campaign. “I get the opportunity to represent the Army and the NYPD at the same time.”

Souffrant, 35, who has spent 18 years so far in the Army Reserve, now serves as a Criminal Investigations Special Agent for the Army Reserves and has been a member of the NYPD for 10 years.

A Criminal Investigations Special Agent, commonly known as a CID, is responsible for investigating numerous types of felony-level crimes, conducting protective-service operations and working with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to solve criminalities and combat terrorism, as long as there is Army interest, Souffrant noted.


Team Chief/Special Agent Frantz Souffrant Jr. in his U.S. Army Dress Uniform.

The “All Solider” campaign is intended to educate prospective soldiers about the Army Reserve, its function in the country’s defense and all of the service options available to them.

Souffrant said he truly relishes his career in the Army Reserves, an institution that will give you the rare opportunity to do something you always wanted to as long as you’re able to pass a systematized test.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I think it’s the only organization in the world where you can say, ‘I like to do this,’ and they’ll give a standardized test. If you score high enough, they’ll give you a shot. There’s no favoritism. They’ll let you do it if you score high enough.”

Though taken aback at first with the filming of the commercial, Souffrant has now developed a newfound respect for the entire film production process as well as the acting craft.

“Initially, when you’re filming, it’s kind of weird,” the Flatbush native admitted. “But now, I can understand why it takes months to make a movie. And I have a new appreciation for acting. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

To view the “All Solider” campaign, go to www.GoArmyReserve.com.

Heather Hardy Hopes To Take Next Step After Unanimous Win

By Jerry Del Priore


Heather “The Heat” Hardy runs her record to 17-0 after beating Kirsti Simmons last night at the Barclays Center!!

If you ask Heather “The Heat” Hardy, she’ll be the first to tell you that she deserves her due after she defeated Kirstie Simmons (8-1, 2 KOs) with a unanimous decision in an eight-round Super Bantamweight bout Saturday night at the Barclays Center.

It was part of the undercard of the Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter World Boxing Association World Welterweight (WBA) main event title fight, which Thurman won on points.

“I’m ready for a world title shot,” Hardy told the media with the utmost conviction following her fight. “I mean, come on, enough is enough. It’s time.”

Hardy (17-0, 4 KOs), although not devastatingly overpowering in the match by her own standards, felt she captured all eight rounds.

“From one to ten, maybe like a seven,” the five-foot-five spitfire said when asked to rate her performance. “It took me like two rounds to just loosen up and find my (striking) distance. And I was really unhappy with the end of the fight. Other than that, I know I won all the rounds, but I know I could’ve done better.”

Nevertheless, Hardy, who is a popular draw, especially in her hometown of Brooklyn, has beaten everyone that has been placed before her and is ready to fight on TV under a bigger spotlight and not be buried in sports obscurity.

“The problem with boxing is the promoters want to put us on Fox Sports 38 at midnight, and then they say we get no ratings,” she said. “So, I think, it’s going to take somebody who’s going to take the chance and shove Heather Hardy between two big fighters and see what happens when everybody tunes in.”

And people do show up to see the Gerritsen Beach native compete, as Hardy said she had sold $15,000 worth of tickets – low for her, she noted – but still pretty decent numbers.

Hardy is hoping to secure a spot on July’s fight card at the Barclays Center, where she has boxed seven times, to keep her momentum going. However, she has been told to take a well-earned break.

“I asked them [promoters] to put me on next month’s card, but I got a big fat no,” Hardy quipped. “I got, ‘Shut up, Heather. Take some time off.’ So, I will be calling the office, bothering them to get me something hopefully soon.”